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Surveys on sexual health: recent developments and future directions
  1. Kaye Wellings1,
  2. John Cleland2
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1B 3DP, UK
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Population Health
  1. Kaye Wellings kaye.wellings{at}


The increasingly widespread adoption of the term sexual health reflects a move away from the medicalisation of this specialty. The focus has shifted from clinical practice to lifestyle and behaviour; from clinician to client, and from treatment to prevention. This article discusses these themes, identifying their implications for sexual health research. Recent times have seen, for example, a growing number of studies combining biological and behavioural measures conducted by interdisciplinary teams able to combine biomedical measurements of morbidity with insights into the subjective interpretations of symptoms and consequences. Considerable progress has been made, too, in mounting community based studies, and much has been achieved in gaining compliance and refining sampling methods. Integrated sexual health services, encompassing more than contraceptive or prophylactic service provision, have provided the impetus to investigation of the costs and benefits of coordinated family planning and genitourinary medicine services. Despite its broader focus, there remain opportunities for sexual health research to expand its remit. Studies to date may have focused too narrowly on pathological, to the neglect of health enhancing, consequences of sexual behaviour.

  • surveys
  • sexual health

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